Clerks in Johnsonville handle voting issues

Clerks in Johnsonville handle voting issues
Florence County election officials address problems with Johnsonville precinct. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
Florence County election officials address problems with Johnsonville precinct. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Voter registration and election employees in Florence County are changing procedures to make sure the Johnsonville precinct doesn't go down again for this Saturday's Democratic primary.

None of the three electronic machines were cleared from the previous election, which means the election codes didn't match up and the machines wouldn't turn on. The director of elections for Florence County, David Alford, said Saturday was definitely an emergency situation, but that every vote, even the handwritten ones, will count.

"You can vote a ballot on a napkin, but they had legal pads and they took the votes and they were brought here and we counted it in our system," said Alford.

Electronic voting machines require voters to do one thing at a time systematically, or there is room for human error. Wayne Coleman, election analyst for Florence County, was one of the technicians who went to the precinct to clear the machine.

"I opened up the machine and the machine worked fine," Coleman said. "I went to the next one. Once we opened them up, everything worked fine and the voting continued as it should have."

All 50 emergency ballots were used up and after that, Coleman said about 80 people had to write their vote on a piece of paper.

Whether the vote is cast on a paper ballot or a machine, the check-in and voting processes are the same.

"So, we're not taking papers and throwing them away," said Coleman.

The overall Republican primary was lower than they expected. County precincts prepared for at least 25,000 voters. Instead, there were 18,238 voters countywide. As for Saturday, Alford said his clerks followed procedures just the way they should have.

"The good thing is my team of technicians were able to see what the problem was, respond to it and resolve it, and we did it as quickly as possible," Alford said.

He assures people that a mechanical issue can't always be predicted and it's all part of the business,

Still, Alford said the state election commission ran the audit yesterday and every vote and ballot in the county was accounted for perfectly.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.